Published: Wed, June 14, 2017
Culture | By Antonia Gonzales

Suspected N.Korea drone photographed US missile defense site

According to a South Korean foreign ministry official, specific topics such as THAAD may not be on the official agenda for the summit considering it will be the first face-to-face meeting between Presidents Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump.

South Korea said Tuesday a drone believed sent from North Korea had been spying on a United States missile defence system before it crashed.

Last month, Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, the US Defence Intelligence Agency chief, said it was "inevitable" that a nuclear weapon launched from North Korea would hit the US mainland.

Moon said in his inauguration speech last month that he was willing to visit Pyongyang "in the right circumstances" to ease tension.

South Korean officials said the drones found in 2014 also were equipped with Japanese-made cameras and photographed South Korea's presidential Blue House and other areas.

The president called for efforts to set up what he called a three-way defense system. North Korea called the system a provocation aimed at bolstering US military hegemony in the region.

The THAAD deployment, however, has angered China because the system's long-range AN/TPY-2 radar has the ability to peer into Chinese territory. In a meeting with the Federation Internationale de Football Association president, Gianni Infantino, Moon said that several countries in north-east Asia - including the isolated North Korea - could form a bloc to share hosting duties for the tournament.

The drone was believed to have crashed because it ran short of fuel while returning to the North.

North Korea has about 300 unmanned aerial vehicles of different types including one designed for reconnaissance as well as combat drones, the United Nations said in a report previous year.

But the overture for warmer ties has been complicated by the defiant pursuit of nuclear and missile development by North Korea, which has conducted missile tests four times since Moon's election on May 10.

South Korea has repeatedly accused the North of flying suspected spy drones across the tense border. Unlike the recently found drone, however, these older aircraft all were powered by a single engine.

Such crossings across the land border are unusual but not unprecedented, although most of the on average 1,000 North Koreans who defect to the South every year travel through China.

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